Antioch couple's house divided: She loves Cubs, he's die-hard for Cards
When Courtney Plaza first met her husband, Jim Plaza, they had a connection almost instantly. The two have a lot in common -- both are teachers at Grayslake high schools, both love baseball.
But one big difference makes the National League Division Series especially interesting for the Antioch couple: Jim is a die-hard St. Louis Cardinals fan, and Courtney grew up rooting for the Cubs.
"It affects my mood whether (the Cardinals) win or lose," Jim said. "So right now, it's pretty intense."
But they've learned how to have fun with the rivalry.
"As we've gotten more comfortable with each other, it's fun to tease each other and egg each other on," Courtney said.
The Plazas fly a "house divided" flag -- half Cardinals, half Cubs -- outside their house. They go to baseball games together, both in St. Louis and at Wrigley Field, and Jim taught Courtney how to fill out a score card.
"He grew up playing baseball, so he taught me more about the game in general," she said. "I have more of an appreciation, and I feel like I know the sport more after having him in my life."
Of course, Courtney and Jim had a baseball-themed wedding in June. Their save-the-date cards were designed to look like baseball tickets, and their wedding photos were taken at a baseball field.
During the reception, each table was represented by a different major league team, with the head table divided between the Cubs and Cardinals. Guests were asked to change into baseball jerseys, and the DJ played "Take Me Out to the Ballgame."
"Jim and I don't consider ourselves very fancy, so it was a good way to bring in who we are and a part of our life to make our wedding a little more personal," Courtney said. "Plus, it was a good way to get Jim involved in the wedding planning."
The couple even place bets on every Cubs-Cardinals series. The spouse whose team loses has had to clean the other's car, cook dinner for two weeks or, during the final regular-season series, sport spirit wear of the opposite team.
Jim took the loss well.
"I had to wear a Cubs jersey on the first day of school, which was the most humiliating experience of my life," he deadpans.
You also won't hear Jim trash-talking about impending success, despite the Cardinals' undeniably strong track record in the postseason.
"I like to keep my mouth shut until it's over. I'm very superstitious about saying stuff," he said. "There's no denying that the Cubs are incredibly hot, and the Cardinals have had a solid year. I don't know who's going to win."
Courtney said the Cubs' strong season makes "things a little more interesting" for her, but more stressful for Jim.
"I've been a Cubs fan for 27 years, and finally it's our turn," she said. "I hope the Cubs have an opportunity to shine."